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 Photo taking tips

The better the reference photo the better your portrait will be!

Although I don’t show every detail if your photo shows me the little details and accents in and around their mouth and eyes I can enhance these and really bring them to life!

I can usually improve on a photo but I need to be able to see the structure of your pet’s head and the shape of their nose and eyes. I can’t make a sad photo happy the whole face changes shape when they smile – not only their mouth . If we can have a happy photo to start with that will make a great difference to your portrait!

 Plan ahead – for a small portrait it is best to just have a head portrait so zoom in and just take photos of their head and shoulders. For a full body  larger portrait ( 30 x 40cms image size and larger) make sure their whole body fills the photo.

Here are some photo taking tips . Remember if you are local I can come and take suitable photos for you.

 If you are using a mobile photo you need to be close! Many mobile phones aren’t great for taking photos .They often have a wide angled view which makes your pet further away and smaller in the photo than they are. It’s pretty hard to check the sharpness of any photos you have taken until later on the computer and by then it may be too late to go back and take more if they aren’t much good!

 Tablets may work but a multi shot option on a digital camera is best.

The best camera is one with good megapixels ( 10 – 20)  , a viewfinder  you can look through  as you take the photos, a zoom and multi or sports shooting mode.

Always make sure you take plenty of sharp closeup photos of your pets. You never know when they may leave you. I have  many people asking me to create a portrait of their pet after it has passed away . Sadly I sometimes have to say it’s not possible as the only photos they have are blurry , dark or their pet is a tiny speck in the photo .

I offer the option of  coming and taking  photos of all your pets to put them on my file for any possible future portraits.( local only)

Taking photos of dogs –

Lighting – If possible don’t use a flash . Have your pet under a verandah in bright light , outside in overcast conditions or near a window if they are inside. You can take photos of them in bright sunlight but make sure they aren’t squinting or have any dark shadows fall across their face.

As I said before the best camera is one with 10megapixels plus , a zoom, sports or multi shot function + and a viewfinder- not just a window at the back. You can use one with just a window but there is no easy way to check if what you are taking is in focus etc so it will make things harder.

If you don’t have a suitable camera maybe you have a friend who is into photography that can help ?

It’s best to have 2 people. Tie your pet up on a 1m odd lead. Get about 2.5m away from your pet , at their level, so you are looking them in the eye.

We don’t want a photo looking down on your pet. You need to get back from them a little and zoom in to take the photo otherwise the photo will have distortions – big head etc.

Have a friend get behind you AT CAMERA  LEVEL with some tidbits or a toy and get them to do whatever it takes to get your pets attention. Your pet should be looking at the camera as your helper is crouched behind you ( warn the neighbours that the weird noises coming from the backyard are only you trying to get your pets attention..LOL’s)

Put your camera on best quality photos and if you have it use multi shot or sports setting so that the  camera keeps taking photos for as long as you hold the button down.Make sure the camera focuses on your pet before you press the shutter.

I need your pet to be filling the photo not a little blob in the distance so for a head portrait zoom in and just take head & shoulders. For a full body portrait don’t get much background.

Take 100’s of photos.

Taking suitable photos of a horse

The lighting is very important in horse reference photos even more so for full body paddock or ridden photos.

If possible take photos in the sun and take them from an angle that gives a great shine to your horses coat but doesn’t leave any shadows across it’s body. I can always enhance the shine on the coat but making it up can be a bit dodgy.

For paddock / head shots-

Have someone holding the horse or have it in a confined area where it can’t move around much. For a side on photo get back about c 5- 10m and zoom in to fill the frame. For a front on photo keep back a similar distance. If you take  the photos from too close you get big head distortion which makes your horses nose too large or you will distort it’s body. Once again have someone behind you with food to get your horse animated and looking at the camera. Riding shots are trickier. You’ll need a decent camera with a zoom. Don’t get too close put it on sports or multi shot , focus on the first one and then hold the shutter down and take heaps.

If you don’t want tack in the portrait and your horse will stay put take it off . If you want tack take photos with it on! I can remove or add tack but it take a lot longer so it is more of an investment.

Cats are obviously harder as you can’t tie them up!

Aim to get at their level and shoot across ( unless you deliberately want an unusual angle).

This is just a quick overview – if your pet is white or black there are exposure factors to be incorporated.

Email me for more photo taking help.